What is the backbone of Room In The Inn? It is our host sites. RITI would not exist without the involvement of our host sites which provide a home where our neighbors can feel safe, have a hot meal and most important … be treated as they deserve— as a member of the Charlotte community.
This month, Holy Comforter let us look at how their program works, why it is so successful and the benefits it provides to the neighbors, the community and their congregation. A special thank you to volunteer RITI coordinator Brad Patterson for sharing the Holy Comforter story.
Why does Holy Comforter participate in Room In The Inn?
Room In The Inn is an important ministry to our church and the community. Last May, there was a woman who was a member of the homeless community that was murdered. She had been to our church a couple of times through Room In The Inn. This really brings it home—the reason we do what we do– to give our homeless neighbors a safe place.
This is a very rewarding ministry… it doesn’t have to be a challenge. You can structure it to spread the workload. It doesn’t have to be a big job for anyone if everyone works together.
What makes Room In The Inn successful at Holy Comforter?
One key aspect is to make the program attractive to the neighbors and to volunteers. Standardization and providing consistency is important We recruit people for certain roles and standardize it to make it easy.
We have a core group of people that focus on a specific item – for example, cleaning up on Sunday mornings, taking laundry to Hope Haven each week, cooking the meals, or spending the night.
Another important aspect is socialization with our neighbor guests. We strongly encourage the volunteers to share a meal with a neighbor. We get to know our guests and since we host on Saturday nights, we invite them to attend our 8am service the following morning.
We notice a difference in the feel of the 8am service when we have neighbors join us. We ensure that they get back downtown after the service.
Any good Neighbor story memories?
Another success factor is partnerships with other churches. We don’t have our own van, so we borrow one from another church. We also have a partnership with Sedgefield Methodist church – they use our facility one week a month to serve Room In The Inn. We really like that partnership!
We hosted a single mom with two teenage boys for several nights. We developed a strong relationship with the family. When they got housing, we helped them move in.
How does your church overcome any difficulties?
Volunteers are the key. We look to the groups within our church — the vestry, men’s group, choir, Latino group ministries and ask them as groups to take on a weekend. The scout troop also takes on a weekend. This is a multi-generational ministry. We encourage children to be involved. We have also brought our dogs because it gives our neighbors an opportunity to interact with unconditional love from a pet. That is missing for so many of the people.
RITI gives us a sense that we are doing something important and making a meaningful contribution to a problem in Charlotte.
How has this program helped the congregation?
We are proud to talk about the RITI program! There is also a personal satisfaction in being a part of something bigger.
Do you want to make a difference? We need additional host sites or individuals willing to volunteer at an existing host site. Our greatest needed is for Sunday through Wednesday nights. Contact Ashley Brown at Innkeeper@Urbanministrycenter.org to get involved! Thank you!